Lynas pledges to send rare earth waste abroad

(The Malaysian Insider) – Australian miner Lynas Corp has told the Malaysian government that it will send waste from its planned rare earth refinery to a location outside the country if a suitable disposal site cannot be found locally.

Last week Lynas had maintained that waste from its refinery in Gebeng would not be hazardous, and that the radioactive residue could be recycled for “commercial applications”.

But International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said today that the Australian company had now submitted a letter of undertaking to send its rare earth processing residue abroad if it cannot find a suitable waste disposal site in Malaysia.

“Even though the government is satisfied there will be no radioactive residue produced during the plant’s operation, we have ordered Lynas to guarantee and plan the provision of a permanent waste disposal facility far from human population as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Failing which, Lynas has already expressed willingness to take the residue out of Malaysia,” Mustapa was quoted by The Star’s online edition as saying in a joint statement with Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob today.

He said an independent monitoring panel had also been set up to audit the plant’s construction.

“The fact is, the rare earth does not need to be controlled by Australia because it is not dangerous but in Malaysia, AELB is overseeing the project after considering the public’s opinion.

“This does not mean the government is bowing to the Himpunan Hijau chairman’s threats as we are doing all these for the sake of the people,” Mustapa was quoted by The Star as saying.

Himpunan Hijau 2.0 chairman Wong Tack had threatened to hold another anti-Lynas rally if the government refused to shut down the project.

Lynas had stressed previously that dregs from its refinery will not require “long-term storage”, in response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement last Friday that its rare earth waste disposal site will be relocated away from the Gebeng area and local communities.